The Bottom Line:

  • Consumers look for protein, vitamins, fiber, and calcium ingredients
  • Plant-based dietary fiber is important for gut health
  • Plant-based dietary fiber is important for gut health

Consumers, more mindful of their health and wellbeing than ever, are looking for food choices that are both nutritious and delicious. McKenna Mills, senior technical services specialist, Cargill, explains, “Consumers recognize the role nutrition and diet play in their overall health and wellbeing, a trend that has been amplified by the global pandemic. As they take a more proactive approach to their health, we see heightened interest in products made with ingredients perceived as healthy, natural and familiar. Many are trying to consume more plant-based products, seeking foods enriched with nutrients like protein and fiber, and limiting their intake of sugar.

In fact, based on the 2022 International Food Information Council (IFIC) Food and Health survey, the top nutrients consumers are trying to include in their diets are protein, vitamin D, vitamin C, fiber, and calcium. The study also shows that 73% of consumers are trying to avoid or limit their intake of sugars.

“Specifically within the snack and bakery space, the health and wellness trends are evident with the rise of bakery products that include stevia, up 163% from 2020 to 2022, according to NielsenIQ. Claims for nutrients like protein and fiber are up too. NielsenIQ data finds bakery products with protein claims increased 9% and fiber claims jumped 13% during the same period,” shares Mills.

A nutritional punch

Consumers are not getting enough plant-based dietary fiber from sources like fruits and vegetables, which are important for optimal gut health. Van Drunen Farms, Momence, IL, recognized this issue and saw it as an opportunity to launch NatureKnit, their new gut health solution with dietary fiber-bound polyphenols made from upcycled fruits and vegetables. “Unfortunately, many supplemental fibers on the market are isolated and lack health-promoting compounds like the polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables. NatureKnit is different. It delivers intact, plant-based dietary fiber and polyphenols, naturally bound together, to the gut. Once there, the fiber-bound polyphenols are slowly released and act as antioxidants to help promote optimal gut health and overall wellbeing,” explains Tony Barenie, marketing manager, Van Drunen Farms. Additional features of the new product include:

  • A Gentle Form of Dietary Fiber: NatureKnit contains 50% natural and intact soluble and insoluble fiber from fruits and vegetables which helps make it a gentle form of fiber
  • Rescued and Repurposed Fiber: NatureKnit rescues the fiber-bound polyphenols from fruits and vegetables that are commonly discarded during food processing and use them for this upcycled and on-trend product

NatureKnit is a clean, versatile, formulation-friendly ingredient that can be used in a range of snack and bakery applications, including breads, bars, baked goods, cereals, crackers, and desserts.

Tree Top Inc., Selah, WA, now is offering dried pumpkin powder. “The powder is made from nutrient-dense pumpkins, grown in the fertile soil of Washington. Pumpkin powder is a versatile ingredient that naturally enhances flavor and color. Pumpkin powder can serve as a replacement for wet pumpkin puree and can also be used as a healthy alternative to flour and sugar. Sweet and delicious pumpkin is packed with an impressive list of macronutrients, micronutrients, phytonutrients and antioxidants, including dietary fiber, vitamin C, beta carotene, vitamin A, iron and potassium,” states Mike Dorrington, director of ingredient sales, Tree Top Inc.

This new pumpkin powder can be used in breads, bagels, muffins, dry mixes, cookies, and tortillas.

In addition, the company offers apple powder, which can be blended into a dough matrix or filling and used as a fat replacer and moisture extender. For added variety there is a blend of pear, apple, and plum powder that enhances flavor and can be used to replace fat, provide humectancy, bulking, and moisture control.

udderly oats milk powder
Courtesy of Van Drunen Farms

Chaucer Foods, Hull, UK, has fruit purees and smoothies that come in different shapes and sizes to meet various formulation needs. “The fruit purees and smoothies are freeze-dried, which are made from Chaucer’s freeze-dried powders. Depending on client requests, we can tweak the formula to add flavor, nutritional value and visual appeal to their recipes. Available in either single freeze-dried fruit powder or powder blend, these bite-sized snacks can be enriched with beneficial ingredients, like prebiotics, calcium, or caffeine, to add an extra boost of nutrients. The purees and smoothies make a great addition to any snack mix, frozen treat, or enjoyed on their own,” shares Itzel Rincon, sales and new product introduction director, Chaucer Foods.

Protein, fiber, sugar reduction options

Loretta Kelly, director of strategic marketing, global ingredients division, Blue Diamond, Sacramento, CA, has noted that “better-for-you bakery” is a growing trend. 

“Better-for-you bakery is a way for consumers to enjoy a nutritious alternative to their favorite products, like dairy-free muffins, gluten-free bread, and high protein cookies. The ‘better’ in better-for-you products often represents the addition of a nutritious ingredient, such as protein, which is an added functional benefit today’s consumers are seeking out. As a result, the interest in bakery products like almond protein cookies and almond flour cakes has increased.” 

With the growing interest in better-for-you bakery, the team is working on creating new ways to incorporate almond ingredients, like protein powder, butter and flour into bakery and snack products. Almond ingredients can be used in offerings such as high-protein cakes, low-carb, crusts and non-dairy custards that provide protein, fiber, and healthy fats while being clean label and plant-based, shares Kelly. 

Another product from Van Drunen Farms is Udderly Oats, an organic, gluten-free oat milk powder that can be used as a dairy alternative in a variety of snack and bakery applications. “Udderly Oats is produced by using our drum drying process, which is also a validated kill step. Our process is what creates the pleasant, toasted oat profile for Udderly Oats plus makes it a ready-to-eat ingredient solution with a smooth texture experience that will add little to no viscosity or thickness to the final product,” states Barenie. Key bakery and snack applications for this product include cakes, muffins, breads, and bars.

“Dietary fiber has been recognized as a key nutrient critical to overall health. With the most recent labeling revision, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) increased the Daily Value for dietary fiber from 25 grams to 28 grams to address the concern that more than 90% of women and 97% of men do not meet the recommended daily intake,” states Mills.

Cargill recently added soluble corn fiber to their ingredient portfolio, a versatile ingredient that supports sugar reduction up to 30% or more, along with fiber enrichment.

almond cookies
Courtesy of Blue Diamond

“As an ingredient with a minimum 80% fiber content (dry basis), it enables ‘high in fiber’ claims. At the same time, it supports sugar reduction as a label-friendly bulking agent with half the calories of sugar. In addition to its nutritional credentials, our soluble corn fiber brings other benefits. It offers good digestive tolerance, a must for indulgent categories like bakery, while also filling key functional roles in formulations, bringing back bulk and mouthfeel in reduced-sugar applications, with minimal impact on color or texture,” explains Mills. This non-GMO ingredient can be used in reduced-sugar muffins, cakes, cookies, snack bars, and cereal. 

Durrell Washington, director of product marketing at Glanbia Nutritionals, Chicago, says the company offers the OvenPro series of high-protein, high-fiber solutions that functionally improve the nutrition, flavor, texture, and stability of bakery applications. The OvenPro series includes Bread & Bread Low Net Carb, Cake, Quickbread, Tortilla Low Net Carb, Shortbread, Quickbread GF and Cookie. The series provides between 47% to 80% protein and between 18% to 35% fiber depending upon the variety. Benefits include a clean label and one-to-one flour replacement that is easy to formulate with. Usage levels can be adjusted to achieve a variety of nutritional goals. 

The company also is launching BarHarvest 900, a functional pea protein that allows for high levels of plant-based fortification without compromising on taste and texture. This new ingredient is designed specially to improve shelf life, moisture, and soft texture of many applications and is ideal for use in plant-based bars and snacks. 

Icon Foods has added fructooliogosaccharides (FOS) and soluble tapioca fiber to their portfolio. These new ingredients are ideal for fiber fortification, and in baking applications have the added benefit of replacing starch which can decrease net carbs.

“With many consumers turning to prebiotic fiber to promote gut health, Icon’s Prebiotica FOS is a prebiotic fiber that can be used as a partial replacement for flour, as well as help drive down added sugars,” says Thom King, CEO, Icon Foods, Portland, OR. 

“It is also a plug-in solution for inulin, which has experienced global shortages. Reconfiguration is unnecessary because of the close chemical relationship between inulin and Prebiotica FOS. Icon’s FibRefine is a soluble tapioca fiber that is water-soluble, low viscosity, process stable and clear in solution. FibRefine adds fiber while optimizing taste and texture, and can reduce sugar by as much as 25% in low-calorie bakery and snack products.” 

The company is also launching a Bakers Blend, designed as a replacement for sucrose. “It contains allulose which participates in Maillard, browns and can activate leavening. Allulose burns at a lower temperature than sucrose. To compensate, we have added erythritol to this Baker’s Blend. This creates bulk and suppresses the burn point of allulose. Since both erythritol and allulose are 70% as sweet as sugar, we use a proprietary blend of stevia and monk fruit extracts to bring the blend to parity with sugar. Lastly it contains a blend of natural fibers (soluble tapioca fiber and inulin type fibers) to emulate fat and create mouthfeel,” shares King.

With shoppers increasingly conscious about health, they will seek product choices that provide the nutrition they are looking for without compromising on taste, delivering options that are both nutritious and tasty. SF&WB